The legal framework for spatial planning and land use management changed with the introduction of the new Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA). SPLUMA facilitates the shift of power over critical areas of land use management from provincial governments to local governments, which results from the Constitution allocating "municipal planning" to municipalities. With this comes a responsibility for municipalities to adopt municipal planning by-laws. This article focuses on four of the many challenges SPLUMA needed to address namely (1) the division of responsibilities between national, provincial and local government, (2) the interrelationship between plans and rights, (3) planning and informality and (4) making government cohere. The article introduces these four challenges and examines how SPLUMA seeks to address them. In particular, it conducts a preliminary assessment of fifteen "first generation" municipal planning by-laws to assess how they address the four themes in SPLUMA.